4 Your Eyez Only

Jermaine Cole is an American hip hop recording artist and record producer. Cole first received recognition in 2007, following the release of his debut mixtape The Come Up. The amount of pressure put on J. Cole to create a powerful follow-up to his last double platinum album Forest Hills Drive had a very positive impact on his work, as his album did not disappoint. The 31-year-old, North Carolina-based artist often seen as one of his generation’s most prolific lyricists, and more times than not he delivers. On his new album, 4 Your Eyez Only, Cole paints a narrative from the perspective of an entirely different person, and a unique storytelling flow is created throughout the album. On this album, Cole digs deep, speaking about his most private thoughts.

The song neighbours, actually has quite a thrilling story behind its influence. Cole rented out a house in North Carolina, the Sheltuh, as a safe haven and recording studio for artists and producers. A lot of the album was recorded there. Located in the suburbs of a pretty wealthy neighborhood in North Carolina, you can imagine the concerns the neighbours had when they saw predominately, African-Americans coming in and out of this house. Uber’s coming, and every once in awhile there was a group of them outside on the porch smoking. The neighbours were not used to this activity, and grew suspicious of the group.

When the group traveled to Austin, Texas for a music festival, the house was raided by a SWAT team. One of the neighbours had told the police that drugs were being grown and distributed inside the house. When the team entered, all they found was a basement full of recording equipment.

Cole frequently writes from different points of view. On this album he writes from the point of view of his late friend James McMillan, Jr., who was killed at 22. There are references to his death throughout the album, and a testimony from a young girl in Fayetteville, which appears at two points on “Ville Mentality,” which echos the reality his daughter had to face after his death. Cole is a new father (“She’s Mine, Pt. 2” is about his wife and newborn child), and the title track, is anchored by his personal anxieties, making this album some of Cole’s most affecting writing to date.